Lawmaker: Fine Schools that Suppress 1st Amendment

January 2, 2016

By Bob Unruh at World Net Daily

‘College is supposed to make you uncomfortable’

Despite their claims to be bastions of free thought and free speech and a comfort zone for those discussing a wide range of theories and philosophies, colleges and universities in America have a reputation for deciding what free speech to allow.

Just ask the workers at The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, who routinely fight university boards and managers who crack down on the First Amendment rights of their students.

Now one state lawmaker in Washington state is going a step further, proposing a financial penalty for violating the Constitution, according to a new report in The Extract.

The report said, “For one Republican state representative in Washington, his concern translated to action in the form of targeted legislation he hopes will help preserve free speech on college campuses across his state.”

The bill he drafted includes a fine of at least $500 for a university’s “active suppression of students’ First Amendment rights,” the report said. And it would grow by $50 per day until the violation is removed.

“I think that much of America watched with horror as events unfolded at Yale and the University of Missouri this year,” Rep. Matt Manweller told the Extract.

“When you see a mob screaming at a dean’s wife for sending out emails about Halloween costumes, or when you see a journalism professor prohibiting a journalism student from writing an article about protests, you really wake up and start to question what is going on.”

He told the publication, “College is supposed to make you uncomfortable.”

Manweller said he’s targeting those locations on campuses called “safe spaces” or “free speech zones.”

He said he’d like to see an end to the practice of limiting free speech to certain areas.

At the FIRE, officials have proposed New Year’s resolutions on the issue.

The organization suggests administrators should adopt a statement committing to protect free speech on campus.

And to squash speech codes.

“Just under 50 percent of colleges and universities still maintain policies that restrict speech in ways that are likely unconstitutional. Find your school in our searchable Spotlight database, and work towards eradicating your institution’s ‘red light’ or ‘yellow light’ codes by the end of the year. You might just be our next ‘green light’ institution!” FIRE said.

FIRE said faculty members can instill the importance of free speech and academic freedom in students.

And students, FIRE said, need to “get speech-smart.”

“Know your rights. FIRE has dozens of resources waiting for you. From our FIRE Guides series, to our student press resources, to our Spotlight Database of campus speech codes, FIRE’s website is your one-stop-shop to get educated about your free speech rights as a student.”